Top 10 TechWhirl Articles of 2013

TechWhirl's Most PopularTechWhirl’s Special Writers’ Unit produced the kind of content in 2013 that kept our community informed and educated on the trends, products and foundational knowledge members need to support their employers’ and clients’ technical communication and content goals. All kinds of topics proved popular with our readers, and top contributors included Fiona Hanington,  Jacquie Samuels, Lois Patterson, Peter Winninger, Rachel Houghton, Yehoshua Paul, and yours truly. Product reviews, useful templates, expertise, opinion and even some humor made it to the top 10 articles we published this year.  All of them are worth a second look.  Enjoy!


10. The Future Is Now: User Experience Drives Technical Communication

Although I usually don’t like to pull out my crystal ball or scry into a tea cup, TechWhirl asked me take a stab at guessing the future of tech comm. So here we go: Johnny Mnemonic meets Minority Report and Star Wars, with a touch of Hackers thrown in for good measure. This is really not very surprising because user experience drives technical communication already.


tortoise-juggler-sm9. Foundations: The Role of the Technical Editor

Are you a writer that works with a technical editor? If so, consider yourself fortunate; many technical writers don’t have the luxury of an editor’s services. Writers on a project team often edit each other’s documents, while writers who work alone may have no choice but to edit their own work.  Writing and editing are distinct processes; each requires a different skill set and focus.


8. Can I Be an Agile Technical Communicator When My Team Is Not?

agile-technical-communicator-team-notI work for Ericsson, a large multi-national company, and we’re in the process of moving the software development framework in our business units to what is known as Agile development. Some units are there already. Others, like ours, are just starting to look into it. I don’t know exactly when my team will make the transition, but I recently went through some training and was inspired to begin the journey towards being an Agile technical communicator.


MadCap Flare 97. MadCap Flare 9 In-Depth: Versatility for Complex Help Authoring Projects

I have been beta-testing MadCap Flare 9 as a TechWhirl assignment, but also with an eye for making a software tool choice for a company that has a huge quantity of complex legacy content.  To that end, I tested Flare’s conversion capabilities with various documents, help systems, and books, which had been created over a long period of time in a variety of formats.


sharepoint-manage-content6. Can SharePoint® Manage your Content?

If it seems that Microsoft® SharePoint is nearly as ubiquitous as Word and Windows, it’s because SharePoint implementations are a major factor in IT project expenditures today.  In fact, if SharePoint were a standalone company, it would rank in the top 50 software companies in the world. It should come as no surprise that executives concerned about the management of technical content often wonder if technical publications in XML can be managed well using Microsoft SharePoint.


technical communication trends 20135. A Vision of 2013: Five Technical Communication Trends 

Now that we see 2012 in the rear-view mirror, it’s time to reset the GPS to identify and track the technical communication trends that will shape what we do and how we do it in 2013. We’ve compiled this list–UX, mobile, responsive design, branding and globalization–through our experience, by noting trends on our email discussion group, and by monitoring the community at large.


content management system4. Types of Content Management Systems Explained

After the first twenty times you ran across the terms “CMS” or “content management system,” you probably jumped to a conclusion about what people mean by it.  Or you search for the term online and get a list of one of the types. In all likelihood, the list you retrieve on a search engine won’t include many examples of the kind of content management system you may need to manage technical content for your organization.


Template Tuesdays3. Release Notes Template

The Release Notes document provides the latest information about new features, enhancements to existing features, and defects fixed. The Release Notes can be as short as a few lines of text (example: an app update) or many pages, depending on a given company’s release management process.


SME-hunting-technical-writers-sm2. Yahoo! CEO Bans Technical Writers from Working at Office

April 1, 2013: The CEO of Yahoo! recently upset a lot of people when she announced that employees would no longer be allowed to work from home, and that all returning employees were going to be put on rotating babysitting duty. However, the public outcry seems to have ignored one of the more puzzling details – technical writers are officially exempt from this new work requirement.


Template Tuesdays1. User Guide Template

The User Guide (aka User Manual) provides the information and instructions needed to set up and use a product. A User Guide includes written and visual information (such as diagrams or screen shots) to assist the user in completing tasks associated with the product (or service), organized along functional or workflow lines.

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